Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Accidental Coke Nail

I clipped my nails the other day. I must have gotten distracted somehow, though. Today I noticed I have a "coke nail". :P

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fixing the Dryer

I fixed the dryer last week. For quite a while it had been squeaking a bit in the beginning of cycles with heavy loads, with the squeaking lessening or stopping altogether as the load dried. Recently, though, it started rumbling loudly. The squeaking pretty much stopped then, or at least wasn't audible.

After poking around at it without opening the thing up (I wasn't sure I wanted to do that initially) I saw that the drum was separating from the back panel at the bottom. After a bit of research I figured it was probably a problem with the drum support rollers.

So I flipped off the circuit breaker, unplugged it, and opened it up.

At this point I'll mention that this is a Kenmore dryer, model 110.86672100 electric dryer. I mention this because I was able to find very little on this dryer in my searches and want to make this available for folks looking for help with this problem. The guide I used was an old copy of the Reader's Digest "New Fix-It-Yourself Manual", dated 1996. It was a housewarming gift from around 11 years ago. It's very visual, which helps, but sometimes sketchy and encyclopedic.

So, like I said, I opened it up. I didn't do it with a putty knife like all the dryer opening how-to guides out there tell you. That just didn't work for me. I was able to see the clips, though, and choose more capable tools: large and small flat-head screwdrivers. I pushed the large one into the slot to separate the top from the front panel a bit, the pushed in the center tab of the clip with the small one to release it. Repeat on each side. Oh, and I removed the lint trap and the screws under its cover first. Don't forget that step.

Let me interrupt here to mention that we have a magnetic vent cover we put on top of the lint trap handle. It's designed for heat & air vents, but does help if you get a bit of dust from your lint trap. Anyway, I put that on top of the water heater which is next to the dryer and it made a handy place to put removed screws.

After removing the top I removed the front panel with a box wrench. Then, after a good vacuuming, following the instructions in the book I removed the belt and drum. That's when I finally got a look at the guts.

These machines are pretty darn simple. Other than the heater, blower, and ductwork behind the back panel, and the electronics in the console, it's pretty much a motor, belt, drum, a couple wheels, and a belt tensioner.

There's a fabric ring around the back of the drum that meets up with the back panel to form a seal. Before tackling this I had described what was happening to my brother who then told me about his ring needing to be replaced when it started rumbling. The ring looked fine in ours, though, so I kept looking for the problem. (It's a good thing too, because I think replacing the ring would be a messier and longer job, with the glue involved.)

I poked around and discovered that the lower support roller was worn down so as to be visibly smaller than the right side roller, and it rocked on its shaft while the right side roller turned solidly and smoothly. So we went to the local appliance parts place to pick up a roller replacement kit. The kit included two rollers and four plastic triangular clips. When I took off the old parts, though, the bad roller had only one clip, but places for two. (I suspect the transition to rumbling may have happened when the missing clip finally broke off, and that it was picked up by the vacuum.)

Here you can see the old roller and the three remaining clips. You can see how much the one roller was worn, inside and out. The inside was worn more on one side than the other, and asymmetrically there. It was clearly the source of the rumbling, and the loss of support for the drum which caused it to drop away from the back panel. I suspect the lessening support also caused a loss of tension in the belt over time, which caused the squeaking. After I replaced the rollers the squeaking was gone too.

Here are the two new rollers in place around the back panel and motor. You can see the belt tensioner in front of the motor. I believe the motor also drives the blower behind the back panel. You can also see the wrench I used to remove the front panel and the bottom roller's support bracket, and the point of the small screwdriver. I also used that to pry the old clips off and to gently pry the new clips on. The roller clips fit into grooves around the shafts. The right roller clips are positioned farther apart, allowing the roller to move a bit as you remove and replace the drum. I suppose it gives it a bit of leeway in operation too. The bottom roller is fixed in one position, though, presumably to help hold the drum against the back panel.

And here is a closeup of the bottom roller. You can see where the plastic clip goes. There's one on the other side as well, which of course had to be put on before the roller. The bracket has a metal clip as well, which was also included in the kit. I put that back on by positioning the closed box wrench head over it and rapping it with the butt of the larger screwdriver handle.

After that I put back the drum and belt. A small box under the front of the drum was handy while putting the belt back on the tensioner and motor pully. Then I put the front panel back on. Opening the front door made it easier to support the drum while doing this. It probably would have been less awkward if I had some help, but it really wasn't all that bad.

Before closing the top I turned the drum a bit to make sure everything was fitting together. The fabric seal had gotten folded inside the drum around part of it, but that was easily fixed by pushing it back into place with a screwdriver from the inside of the drum.

I closed the lid, replaced the lint trap screws and the trap, plugged it in and closed the circuit breaker. I tested it and man did it run smooth! It hasn't rumbled since, and I think it's actually doing a better job. I suspect there have been gaps forming between the drum and pack panel that let cool air get in, reducing the drying power. Anyway, there you have it. I hope these illustrations help someone along the way. If you find yourself with the same repair to do and have any questions, feel free to post a comment. Most days I'll be alerted by email within the day, but I can only guarantee an honest answer, not an informed, accurate, timely, or useful one.